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The Psychology of Holiday Lights

When a person walks into a room, they feel a certain emotion without understanding what causes it. Think about walking into a room full of windows, lit up for the holidays, compared to a dark, dungeon like space. We bet, you prefer the room lit up for the holidays, but just a hunch.

There has been a lot of buzz in the media about how decorating early for Christmas can make you happier. According to an article by Business Insider, Psychoanalyst Steve McKeown, told Unilad; "In a world full of stress and anxiety people like to associate to things that make them happy and Christmas decorations evoke those strong feelings of childhood." After reading all of these studies, we decided to dig deeper, and to research the role that holiday lighting plays in evoking our emotions.


As we discuss in many of our past articles lighting is much more than a tool to help us see. It needs to be viewed as a key piece of the puzzle, in our journey to achieving overall health and wellness. Knowing this, we started questioning why holiday lights generally give us feelings of joy. Yes, there are general reasons. Putting up lights is a positive event, associated with time for family and friends, but lights can also trigger dopamine – the feel good chemical in the brain. There are even full articles regarding the psychology behind you holiday light installation. If you put up white lights you are said to be fair when attempting to make decisions, as opposed to those who install red lights, who have vibrant imaginations and a strong grip on their emotions.


The combination of color and lighting also has an impact on our emotions. When this is viewed throughout the holiday season, we may think of greens, reds, blues, golds, whites and silvers co-existing with lighting. When combined with the right lighting, warm colors such as reds, oranges and yellows bring about feelings of warmth and comfort. Cool colors such as blue, purple and green, bring about feelings of calmness. When we think about the colors of the holiday season, combined with holiday lights, we start to get a sense for why we feel a certain way surrounded by the color and light combinations that the holidays bring.


Holiday lights may also evoke positive emotions due to the fact that many people experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) during the winter months. Artificial lighting, indoors or outdoors, can help to boost someone’s mood during the long and dark winter months. Although holiday lights are mostly viewed through a happy lens, there are many artificial light sources that wreak havoc on our circadian rhythm due to the exposure to blue light. Luckily there is one light source that does not. OLED Lighting is an artificial light source, and a developing technology that not only looks good, but feels good too.

OLED lighting is a healthier light than many other artificial light sources due to having no blue light risk. Unfortunately, OLED lighting is still expensive, so it may be a few years before we see OLED panels included in holiday light displays, which only stay up for a month or two. However, the message is clear. Whether it be holiday lighting or any other light source, our emotions (both positive and negative) are impacted by the light we are surrounded with.